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Here We Go Again: Bob McDonnell Angers Black Leaders, Civil Rights Groups on Voting Rights

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Another day, another controversy for Bob McDonnell.

For the second time in a week, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has angered black leaders and civil rights groups, this time when they learned of his plans to add another step for nonviolent felons to have their voting rights restored.

McDonnell (R) will require the offenders to submit an essay outlining their contributions to society since their release, turning a nearly automatic process into a subjective one that some say may prevent the poor and less-educated from being allowed to vote.

“It’s another roadblock,” Sen. Yvonne B. Miller (D-Norfolk), a member of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, said when she was told of the change.

Miller has repeatedly introduced unsuccessful bills to allow nonviolent offenders to have their rights restored automatically. “This is designed to suppress the rights of poor people,” she said.

Can McDonnell, Cooch et al. go even one day without angering someone or stirring up yet another controversy? It’s hard to believe these guys have only been in office since January; it seems like an eternity.

P.S. This is yet another example of why Tim Kaine should have restored all non-violent, ex-felons’ voting rights before he left office. Big mistake.

UPDATE: Check out my recommended diary at Daily Kos.  

  • Is McDonnell going to reinstate the “voucher system” & “literacy test”? How about a poll tax?

  • pvogel

    The republicans strategy is to marginalize non republicans.

    A strategy doomed to failure. Even if they win in 2010, Obama is a lock to be reelected in 2012

  • The College Democrats at George Mason University have organized an event on campus to protest the intolerance of the McDonnell administration.  Click on the link below to find out more:

    http://gmudemocrats.com/?p=121

    As yet another barrier to getting my rights restored is imposed, this gives us yet another reason to speak out in opposition to an administration that clearly does not care about minorities, the poor, the uninsured and the disenfranchised.

  • Kevin H

    From the losers of the Civil War to the losers of Civil Rights, McDonnell sure knows how to pick’em.

    Aside from the implications of bringing back Jim Crow, what happens if the person were just released and have yet to amass “contributions”.?

  • When I read this, it was very disheartening.  Not surprising, but disheartening.  Especially since we have just gone through two Democratic administrations who might have made real and lasting change on this issue.

  • KathyinBlacksburg

    his party’s vote suppression de-facto platform. He’d make the GOP of the George Allen for Gov (2006) days proud.  

    BTW, for years, Bradblog has chronicled vote suppression and real vote fraud in the US (and its not by Dems, either).

    The whole point of the take-down of Acorn was 1) kill voter registration efforts by Dems and 2) take down any organization working to bring economic justice to the disadvanted.  

    • how it goes!

    • I think this would actually be in your favor, as you can explain all the things you’ve been doing.  

      • to apply for restoration after the sentence is completed.  3 years for nonviolent felons, 5 years for violent felons.

  • Tom

    I don’t seriously expect any “leadership” statement from Cranwell, given his lack of same last year. But I gotta believe and expect a response from Webb. This one is right down Webb’s alley with his major push on prison reform, including this important element.

    Please, someone who has a close connection and good rapport with Webb (not just a senior staffer) ask him to go very public with a statement and repetitive follow-up on this. I see no reason that Webb couldn’t arrange a meeting with McDonnell to discuss this privately so Webb could convince him of the error of his ways both politically and morally, help him write his mea culpa admission of error and correction based on sheer logic that Webb is so skilled at, then have a joint press event billing this as an example of one conservative (Jim Webb the Dem.) and another conservative (Bob McDonnell the Republican) reaching across the aisle to each other for a bi-partisan decision that both could take credit for. A Win-Win for both if they handle it right, with the more intelligent and better (professional) writer making sure that the resulting wording makes both of them look good to their respective bases.  

    • NotJohnSMosby

      and then told you to go jerk off because she didn’t like your essay, would that be a burden?

    • for denying anyone, ex-felon or not, the right to vote? What’s the rationale for making it harder, particularly for people who are illiterate or semi-literate, to get their right to vote back, even after they’ve “done their time” and “paid their debt to society?”  I see none whatsoever, and 48 states agree with me.  Why would you defend the indefensible once again here, simply because Bob McDonnell happens to be a Republican? Remember, I went after Tim Kaine on this issue. Hard. How about you and McD?

    • normanva

      I totally disagree with you Brian.  After a person gets out of prison and successfully finishes parole, his voting rights should automatically be restored.  At worse he should have to send in a simple form.  Once a person finshes parole, his debt to society is supposed to have been paid.

    • Brian, as you know based on your unusual attention to my situation over the past few months, the Governor can deny restoration of rights for something as petty as traffic tickets or for any other reason he feels like.  If it wasn’t so hard already, and if it wasn’t such an arbitrary and capricious (and secret) process, then the essay requirement wouldn’t seem as bad.  But based on what we’ve seen so far, this is clearly another roadblock to deter people from applying in the first place.  And even for those of us who write the essay, there’s still no way of knowing if we’ll get our rights back because there’s no standard in place.

      Of course this is irrelevant, Brian, if you now suddenly believe restoration should be automatic after two years.  If that were the case, then I’d be registered by now.  Even if you applied the speeding ticket requirement (which you defended last year) to this stance, my last ticket was in 2008 so I’d have my rights back this October.

    • to Kaine detailing all my accomplishments and service from my release date to the present.  I also had elected officials write letters on my behalf, and I was fortunate to have lots of other people advocating on my behalf, but it wasn’t enough.  Who’s to say that McDonnell is going to approve more applications, just because he’s requiring the essay?

      I’ve been arguing for months that at the very least, if you meet the requirements of the Application then your rights should be restored.  Read the Application, it’s not unreasonable.

      http://www.commonwealth.virgin

      I met those requirements but was denied anyway.

      • Kevin H

        if it’s your second time being released. If it’s your first offense, though, I think you should be able to get it back immediately.

        But I think the benefit of the doubt should be given to a person who has completed their sentence and debt to society. Anything else after one offense, to me, is extra punishment that isn’t necessarily warranted.

        • I asked Frank a specific question based on his specific situation. As I noted before, I don’t agree with the essay thing, nor do I think current Virginia policy on the subject is correct.

          What I am doing here is expressing my opinion. Perhaps if you’d read what I write instead of trying to find some kind of deeper meaning in it, you’d actually understand what I’m saying.  

  • Old Redneck

    . . . that is so goddam insane, all you can do it slam your head into the desk over and over and over.

  • Glen Tomkins

    “Can McDonnell, Cooch et al. go even one day without angering someone or stirring up yet another controversy?”

    Democrats worry about angering people, even people who aren’t likely to vote for us, because we imagine that election to public office means that you are supposed to make as many people as possible, even the ones who didn’t vote for you, happy.  You can’t secure the public good without doing all the public good.

    That’s not the Republican perspective.  Sure, some people are going to be unhappy with them over this.  But the nature of what they’re doing here, is to make it less likely that these people will ever be able to express that unhappiness in the only way they care about, by voting against them.  Where’s the downside for them?  That they won’t be universally loved?

    They’ve taken Macchiavelli’s advice.  It’s better for a Prince to be feared than loved.

  • Shenandoah Democrat

    At first thought, the notion Tom has described is a good one. Get at the problem through Jim Webb mediating a fair, balanced and modern solution. But on the other hand, it’s not a bad thing for folks to see Bob McDonnell at his worst, groveling with old fashioned social issues that should have been settled years ago. Requiring felons to write anything when many don’t have a 3rd grade education is sooo socially discriminatory– it’s a relic of McDonnell’s 19th century thinking. I don’t want to see this guy suceed–in fact I want to see his utterly outdated values and phony moderation exposed and wrapped around his neck.